Constitutional Convention

Second Continental Congress: March 29, 1776

March 29, 1776

Congress receives and reads a number of letters and also revisits the Canada campaign.  On his way to Canada, Benjamin Franklin writes to Anthony Todd in Britain about the “insanity” of the British position and the “spirit” of the American people. John Adams informs Abigail that delegate Ward declined to be inoculated and died of small pox “the natural way.”

Link to date-related documents.

Journals of the Continental Congress [Edited]

Two Letters from General Schuyler, of the 19th and 21st of February, with sundry papers enclosed among which a copy of the Treaty held with the Indians at Albany, and a letter from the convention of New York, of the 26th were referred to George Wythe, Benjamin Harrison, and Samuel Adams.  A letter from the committee of safety of New Jersey, and one from Mr. John Macpherson, were received and read.  A letter from Allan MacDonell was read and referred to the Committee on Prisoners.

Resolved, That the Secret Committee be directed to deliver to Mr. William Henry and Co. 15 lbs. of powder to prove his muskets worked.

The Congress took into consideration the report of the committee on the means of supplying the troops in Canada.  J Price was elected deputy commissary general of stores and provisions for “the army of the United Colonies in Canada.”  The Committee was empowered “to confer with such persons as they judge proper” on the last paragraph of the report and report back to Congress.

Adjourned to 10 o’Clock tomorrow.

Benjamin Franklin to Anthony Todd (Secretary of the British Post Office)

How long will the Insanity on your side of the Water continue? Every Day’s Plundering of our Property & Burning our Habitations, serves but to exasperate & unite us the more. The Breach between you & us grows daily wider and more difficult to heal. Britain without us can grow no stronger. Without her we shall become a tenfold greater and mightier people. Do you choose to have so increasing a Nation of Enemies? Do you think it prudent by your Barbarities to fix us in a rooted Hatred of your Nation, and make all our innumerable Posterity detest you? Yet this is the Way in which you are now proceeding. Our Primers begin to be printed with Cuts of the Burnings of Charlestown, of Falmouth, of Jamestown, of Norfolk with the Flight of Women & Children from those defenseless Places, some Falling by Shot in their Flight. Allen & his People, with Lovell, an amiable Character & a Man of Letters ! all in Chains on board your Ships. Is anybody among you weak enough to imagine that these Mischiefs are neither to be paid for nor be revenged, while we treat your People that are our Prisoners with the utmost Kindness & Humanity? Your Ministers may imagine that we shall soon be tired of this, and submit. But they are mistaken, as you may recollect they have been hitherto in every Instance in which I told you at the time that they were mistaken. And I now venture to tell you, that though this War may be a long one (and I think it will probably last beyond my Time) we shall with God’s Help finally get the better of you; The Consequences I leave to your Imagination.

P.S. Since writing the above I have been riding round the Skirts of this Town to view the Works; they are but lately begun, but prodigiously forward, all Ranks of People working at them as Volunteers with the greatest Alacrity, & without Pay, to have them ready for the Reception of General Howe, who having finished his Visit to Boston is daily expected here.  What will you do with this Spirit? You can have no Conception of Merchants & Gentlemen working with Spades & Wheelbarrows among Porters & Negroes.  I suppose you will scarce believe it.

John Adams to Abigail Adams

We are taking Precautions to defend every Place that is in Danger- The Carolinas, Virginia, N. York, Canada.  I can think of nothing but fortifying Boston Harbor.

We have this Week lost a very valuable Friend of the Colonies, in Governor Ward of Rhode Island, by the small Pox in the natural Way. He never would hearken to his Friends who have been constantly advising him to be inoculated ever since the first Congress began. But he would not be persuaded.  Numbers, who have been inoculated, have gone through the Distemper, without any Danger, or even Confinement, but nothing would do.  He must take it in the natural Way and die .
He was an amiable and a sensible Man, a steadfast Friend to his Country upon very pure Principles.  His Funeral was attended with the same Solemnities as Mr. Randolph’s.  Mr. Stillman being the Anabaptist Minister here, of which Persuasion was the Governor, was desired by Congress to preach a sermon, which he did with great Applause.

Edited with commentary by Gordon Lloyd.